Oregon State University

Experimental energy and gas exchange ATS546

Snapshots from ATS546

Advanced undergraduate and graduate level class on field experimental methods to quantify the atmospheric carbon dioxide, water, methane, heat, momentum, and radiative exchange at the vegetation-land-ocean-air interface. Techniques include bulk and gradient approaches, and eddy covariance. The central activity consists of student teams designing and conducting a field experiment, analyzing and interpreting observations, and presenting results. The class is delivered as a mix of introductory lectures (2 weeks), design and calibration of instrument in the laboratory (2 weeks), field deployment and data collection (1 to 2 weeks), data analysis and interpretation in the computer lab (2 weeks), and presentation of group and individual projects (1 week).

Instructor: Christoph Thomas will teach this class in spring term 2013, 2015, etc


Course highlights:

  • While the field observations will be carried out over land, observational techniques are generally applicable also above lake and ocean surfaces.
  • Students self-organize in small teams and chose their own research question. Research questions relevant to ongoing and planned graduate research projects are desirable.
  • Each group designs and installs a part of a larger collaborative field experiment.
  • Each group develops its analysis strategy and applies it to evaluate the research question using the collected observations.
  • Quantitative analysis will include the use of existing software programs written in Matlab, or will need to be developed by the group. Writing basic code to read, process, and output data in Matlab or other computational environments will be taught and is required.
  • Hands-on experience with instrumentation to capture atmospheric state variables (e.g. air, soil, water, and leaf temperature, water vapor and carbon dioxide concentration, wind speed, turbulence, net radiation) and fluxes (short- and longwave radiative fluxes, carbon dioxide and methane flux, evapotranspiration, sensible heat flux, soil heat flux).
  • Students work in small teams on their specific project and contribute to the entire group by providing essential information to evaluating all term of the energy and mass balance.
  • Instructor gives an introduction to the surface energy and radiation budget concepts, environmental instrumentation, and experimental techniques, and provides hands-on training on basic data analysis tools in computer labs. Guidance on an optimal experimental design and appropriate analysis strategies is also provided. He also leads and guides discussions on results and their interpretations.
  • Dynamic and group-dependent mix of lectures, discussions, laboratory and field work, and presentations. Students can determine to a large degree the direction and depth of the discussions.
Please contact us if you consider taking this class or if you have any questions about it content. 

Contact Info

Oregon State University
College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences
130 Burt Hall
Corvallis, OR,
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